The actual software you’re going to use with Windows 10…that isn’t so great. At least, not yet.
Microsoft’s own default apps, including a new Mail app and a new Calendar app, work ok, but they’re not nearly as pretty or full-featured as, say, the similarly free (and amazing) Outlook for iOS that Microsoft makes for iPhone.
The Mail app’s supposedly killer feature — a full version of the Microsoft Word text editing engine built in to fine-tune your missive — will probably go ignored or unnoticed by most but the most dedicated email formatting fanatics.
Microsoft’s flagship Office 365 productivity suite doesn’t otherwise have a major part to play in Windows 10 yet.
Also, in this version of Windows, Microsoft Paint still doesn’t get a fresh coat of — well, you know. Which is sad, because it’s still your best bet for editing photos out of the box.
Things don’t get much better if you go to the much-vaunted new Windows Store to download some new apps. It’s especially sad because one of Microsoft’s big selling points for this new Windows Store is that the same app works on any Windows 10 computer, tablet, or, eventually, the Xbox One games console.
It’s an idea with a lot of potential, but very little practical appeal thus far.
Mainstays like Slack, Steam, and Spotify are nowhere to be found. And the major apps that do exist on the Windows Store, like Twitter and Facebook, just don’t work as well or look as pretty as their iPhone or Android counterparts.
Amazon’s Comixology comic book buying and reading app is especially shameful on Windows. It’s my favourite app of all time on both iOS and Android. But in ten solid minutes of fiddling, I still couldn’t figure out how to actually read a comic book on this comic book reading app.
There’s a very good reason for this: Most of the apps on the Windows Store right now were originally intended for its unpopular and unloved original incarnation from Windows 8.
Only a very few uers bothered getting their apps from the Windows Store, so developers didn’t bother throwing any resources at their Windows Store apps, if they made any at all. And because the app selection was so anemic, nobody bothered getting apps from the Windows Store. It’s a vicious cycle.
But Microsoft is working hard to break that cycle. CEO Satya Nadella has said that he wants three billion active users of Windows within the next three years.
With that kind of market penetration, and with the might of Microsoft’s marketing machine behind it, the Windows Store could become a far more attractive marketplace for developers to actually build apps that matter.
Just today, Twitter released an update to its Windows app that’s still not great, but at least slightly better than the last version, giving me a lot of hope that developers are catching on. Microsoft is probably hoping the same, since it takes a cut from any paid Windows Store download.
In the meanwhile, you can, of course, still go and download any Windows software you want from any website you choose, just as you always could. And the Web version of any app (like Comixology) will still work from the browser, just as it always has.
But in my admittedly limited testing of Windows 10, apps that are built for older versions of Windows don’t always hold up very well when you’re using it on the tablet or other touchscreen device. And they don’t quite blend in as well on the new desktop as more modern apps.
In short, there’s every indication that things are going to get better for Windows 10 on the software side, as Microsoft and outside developers alike update their apps to fully take advantage of the new operating system. But in the short term, it’s slim pickings.
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